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[Let's Read] Forgotten Realms: The Revised Campaign Setting

Critias

Social Justice Galliard
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I often got the impression that they really wanted Waterdeep to be the default for any high-falootin' street-smart types, and the Dales to be the default for the rustic, common-born, woodsy sorts. And, honesty, I think they were right in those as great default starting points.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
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I often got the impression that they really wanted Waterdeep to be the default for any high-falootin' street-smart types,
I never got that impression. Waterdeep is riddled with powerful, good aligned characters, has a vast dungeon underneath, they've successfully squashed any thieves' guilds, and all of the luridly evil sins are outlawed, like slavery. It's a shining light that occasionally needs heroes to fend off corruption, or epic threats.

For street-smart types, Melvaunt and Westgate seem like much better choices. They have corruption and moral ambiguity (or outright evil), are rotten with secret and wicked factions, and casual violence is an everyday thing.
 
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Scrivener of Doom

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The second half of the Dales entry discusses the regions around the Dales. So, the Elven Woods, the Spiderhaunt Woods, the Desertsmouth Mountains, and so on. There's a lot of good stuff for adventurers to do around here. A displaced dwarf king at Tethyamar, a sinister spider lord controlling all that happens in the Dales from the Spiderhaunt Woods, the Ruins of Myth Drannor, the young Elven community of Tangled Trees, and so on.

The spider thing kind of reminds me of the araugh... ashau... the guys from Birthright, whatever they were called. One of them was the Spider, right? Personally, giant spiders are a favorite monster of mine. I mean, you can use them anywhere, and they're really kind of creepy. A spider that is secretly controlling everything.... How does it do it? What are its aims?

I also like the displaced dwarf king, you could definitely set up a Hobbit-type adventure there. And it's a bit peculiar how the elven communities mentioned all have different foci - noncombatants, the young, the rulers, art, etc. Something to be drawn into Elvish culture, perhaps.

And all said, I still think that a trip to the Standing Stone could be a great first adventure for young, Dale-born adventurers. Maybe raft down the Ashaba, get chased into (and through) Myth Drannor, have to hunt your way through the woods to Moander's Road.... A trip around the Dales could be fun.
Agreed.

There are two basic Dales-set campaigns I want to run and the era is completely irrelevant.

The first involves Daggerdale and a Zhent takeover. This was done in 2E but would work well in any edition. Basically treat the Zhents like the Iron Circle in Reavers of Harkenwold and drive them out of the dale. Of course, a party of PCs cannot do this alone so gathering allies is vital... such as the dwarves who want to reclaim Tethyamar from the Zhentarim but, in return for the PCs' assistance, help the PCs in the final battle.

The second involves Shadowdale and the drow. Elminster is dead and the drow are starting to come to the surface. Sure, it's clichéd but is there anyone else like me who, on their gaming bucket list, wants to run a drow-centric campaign but actually do it right? There are some great maps of Shadowdale online and this dale also works really well as a sandbox. Oh, and throw in some more Zhents.
 

Scrivener of Doom

New member
Banned
I often got the impression that they really wanted Waterdeep to be the default for any high-falootin' street-smart types, and the Dales to be the default for the rustic, common-born, woodsy sorts. And, honesty, I think they were right in those as great default starting points.
I agree.

I never got that impression. Waterdeep is riddled with powerful, good aligned characters, has a vast dungeon underneath, they've successfully squashed any thieves' guilds, and all of the luridly evil sins are outlawed, like slavery. It's a shining light that occasionally needs heroes to fend off corruption, or epic threats.

For street-smart types, Melvaunt and Westgate seem like much better choices. They have corruption and moral ambiguity (or outright evil), are rotten with secret and wicked factions, and casual violence is an everyday thing.
Waterdeep reminds me of a certain place I used to live. On the surface it is exactly what you describe... but underneath is both Undermountain and Skullport. And there you have your corruption, moral ambiguity, outright evil, wicked factions, casual violence, and slavery. It's all there plus you have the safe haven of the city above. :)
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Waterdeep reminds me of a certain place I used to live. On the surface it is exactly what you describe... but underneath is both Undermountain and Skullport. And there you have your corruption, moral ambiguity, outright evil, wicked factions, casual violence, and slavery. It's all there plus you have the safe haven of the city above. :)
When was Skullport added? I've vaguely heard of it, but I stopped following D&D shortly after 2E came out, and it definitely didn't exist then. (And just the fact that it exists is a major change -- and a change for the better, because the Waterdeep of FR1: Waterdeep and the North was a little too sanitized to be the tentpost city of the Forgotten Realms.)

Edit: Found an answer. Sounds like it first appeared in 1991's Ruins of Undermountain, was fleshed out in Dragon, and then was a significant feature in 1994's City of Splendors.
 
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Scrivener of Doom

New member
Banned
When was Skullport added? I've vaguely heard of it, but I stopped following D&D shortly after 2E came out, and it definitely didn't exist then. (And just the fact that it exists is a major change -- and a change for the better, because the Waterdeep of FR1: Waterdeep and the North was a little too sanitized to be the tentpost city of the Forgotten Realms.)

Edit: Found an answer. Sounds like it first appeared in 1991's Ruins of Undermountain, was fleshed out in Dragon, and then was a significant feature in 1994's City of Splendors.
Cool. No need for me to answer. :)

BTW, Skullport, as in the 2E product of that name, is simply superb. There's enough info there to run multiple campaigns at almost any level.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
BTW, Skullport, as in the 2E product of that name, is simply superb. There's enough info there to run multiple campaigns at almost any level.
The article I linked to is a review of the late 2E product, Skullport. The author has a positive impression, as well.
 

Thane of Fife

Registered User
Validated User
I often got the impression that they really wanted Waterdeep to be the default for any high-falootin' street-smart types, and the Dales to be the default for the rustic, common-born, woodsy sorts. And, honesty, I think they were right in those as great default starting points.
I tend to think of Waterdeep as a place to go, rather than somewhere to be from. Your more urban types come from Cormyr or Sembia, maybe.

Agreed.

There are two basic Dales-set campaigns I want to run and the era is completely irrelevant.

The first involves Daggerdale and a Zhent takeover. This was done in 2E but would work well in any edition. Basically treat the Zhents like the Iron Circle in Reavers of Harkenwold and drive them out of the dale. Of course, a party of PCs cannot do this alone so gathering allies is vital... such as the dwarves who want to reclaim Tethyamar from the Zhentarim but, in return for the PCs' assistance, help the PCs in the final battle.

The second involves Shadowdale and the drow. Elminster is dead and the drow are starting to come to the surface. Sure, it's clichéd but is there anyone else like me who, on their gaming bucket list, wants to run a drow-centric campaign but actually do it right? There are some great maps of Shadowdale online and this dale also works really well as a sandbox. Oh, and throw in some more Zhents.
I'm not a huge fan of drow. I mean, I use them occasionally, but they don't really do anything for me.

Also, and this isn't aimed at you, I'd like to see more ideas on having adventures around Elminster and the other Chosen beyond "they're dead."



Next section in the book is on Cormyr. The Forest Kingdom. Actually not that forested, according to this book. We touch on King Azoun IV and Vangerdahast, of course. We also get a bit on the basic structure and customs of Cormyr - the adventuring charters, the noble houses, the 1342 year old dynasty, the War Wizards, and so on. Cormyr has also significantly expanded its standing army up to about 12,000 men, a big jump from the Grey Box.

Cormyr is kind of portrayed here as a fantasy United States. An area under the general impression of "Hey, we've got everything running pretty great around here, so now we're going to come help you get everything running great, too. Like it or not." Adventure is portrayed as rare in Cormyr, and most people are very content. This is at odds with the general impression I get in the novels, which is that everyone and their dog is part of some secret plot to assassinate the king. That probably makes for better adventure.

Then we move into discussion of the locales within Cormyr. For the most part, they remain not terribly interesting. Apparently Tymora manifested in Arabel (and there's also another mention of Gondegal - who, in fact, seems kind of redundant what with Lashan, but I guess there's plenty of room for would-be conquerors). Good ol' Thiombar is still here. Doust Sulwood and Jelde Asturien are both former Knights of Myth Drannor who now work as junior priests in Cormyrean temples. Seems like kind of a demotion from Lord of Shadowdale, but whatever. Also, there are flying cats (tressym) in Eveningstar. I wonder if this has to do with the general Cormyrean tradition of not hurting cats. I assume they're completely infested with these creatures, because neutering them is also not allowed.

There is brief mention of some ancient, inexplicable glass-but-strong-as-steel ruins in the Farsea Marshes and the Marsh of Tun, which could definitely be a neat place to go adventuring. And we learn that the Goblin March goblins are the guys who captured Tethyamar, though here it is presented as happening long ago, and not in living memory.

Finally, we get the Helmlands, sort of a magically-turmoiling remnant of the Time of Troubles. This is basically the first note we get about that period, stating that Helm was responsible for keeping the gods' avatars in Faerun. And that they wreaked havoc.

There is also an interesting note that Suzail was just a city-state in 200 DR, so I guess House Obarskyr outdated Cormyr as a state?
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Cormyr always struck as me as kind of flavorless. Which may have been deliberate, because that way it can be used for a lot of things. It's just a generic, fairly nice kingdom.
 
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